Despite a long and busy season at La Plissonnais, I have finally finished my kitchen. I’m really rather pleased with it, including hidden little innovations which I’ll probably wax on about at another time. Especially pleasing given that the budget was three shillings and two rusty old buttons.
Tipsy Watermelon, Gorgonzola, Prosciutto and Pecan Salad
There have been actual real-life academic studies into the aphrodisiac qualities of watermelon. Like practically every other ingredient, they were sadly cock-blocked by science. However, once again, they might just, if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) be a potency aid.
The active ingredient in these fleshy orbs of watery goodness is called citrulline. Our bodies convert this to argenine, which boosts nitric oxide, which in turns relaxes blood vessels. So once again, basically natural Viagra. The downside is that the citrulline is concentrated in the barely-edible rind. They’re also a great source of lycopene, which is also good for heart health and circulation. But the proof of this one is definitely in the eating.
Maybe it’s that bright pink colour, or how wet and messy they get you when you dive into a big slice. Or how about spitting those seeds out, through moistened puckered lips. There’s just something inherently messily sexy about eating a watermelon.
So obviously there’s going to have to be a nice big slice of moist, juicy watermelon on the side, so that you can feel those juices dribbling down my chin, but otherwise this is a great starter or side salad, with maybe a nice juicy pink steak and a nice roughly ripped chunk of crusty bread.
Quarter of a watermelon, chopped into bite-sized cubes
A mix of salad leaves, I’ve used rocket and lamb’s lettuce
300g of Gorgonzola, or a similar salty blue cheese. Roquefort or Stilton are good stand-ins.
A large handful of pecans.
Three or four strips of prosciutto, or a similar cured ham.
For the dressing: A shot of vodka, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil
I often read recipes for salads and think “Really? People need instructions on how to put together a salad?” But apparently some people do. So here goes nothing. Put the ingredients in a bowl. Mix. Serve. Drizzle with dressing, which is equal parts vodka, vinegar and oil, mixed frantically in a cup with a fork. Eat.
I’ve mentioned oysters more than once before, and of course they’re currently out of season. But I’m missing them, so thought I’d post the first mention of them from my book, ‘Aphrodisiacs’.
Let’s face it, the oyster is pretty much the daddy of all aphrodisiacs. It’s the first food people think of when they’re asked to come up with one. They also conjure up some pretty mystical and magical feelings, I mean there are very few other foods that have live streaming websites. I kid you not, you really can watch oyster beds live on camera.
But all this oyster-worship is a little odd, since Aphrodite herself is normally shown rising from the sea in a scallop shell, not an oyster shell. It obviously derives all its power from that sympathetic magic, My “E” number 2, the enigma. But there’s not much of an enigma about it, really. I mean they are stacked full of zinc, which is good for the libido, but you’d need to eat about half a ton to make any serious difference. But let’s just be honest from the outset. The oyster looks a bit like certain lady parts, and that moist, slurpy method of eating them that we generally prefer, is just, well, frankly somewhat cunnilingual, if I may just make up an adverb.
Now you can do plenty of things with oysters, but I’m afraid that for my money, you can’t beat them live and raw with just the teeniest splash of tabasco, accompanied by a lovely crisp white wine. Champagne completes the cliché, but I prefer something with fewer bubbles tickling my tonsils, like a Loire-valley Sancerre or Touraine.
We’ve even developed a rude-sounding word for the preparation of this salty, tasty, gooey little bivalve mollusc, and who doesn’t enjoy a damn good shuck? So here’s probably the easiest recipe you’ll read today.
Live Fresh Oysters (half-a-dozen each at least)
For the rash amongst you, perhaps a little lemon juice, tabasco or a light vinegar
Hold the oyster with the cup-shaped shell in the palm of your hand, and the flat shell face-up. Take your flat-bladed stubby shucking knife, or any flat, broad sharp knife. Find the hinge, and work your knife in (just the tip!) between the shells near one of the corners of the hinge. Ease it gently in, and run it all the way around to the other edge of the hinge before tilting the knife to make the hinge ‘pop’. Separate the shells, and run your knife underneath the oyster flesh to sever it from the shell. Be careful not to tip it, or you’ll waste all those yummy juices. Splash on whatever sauce takes your fancy (or don’t), and slurp the whole thing back in one go.
OK, so I haven’t actually watched this yet, but here, ladles & jellyspoons, is my on-screen chef debut.
Be kind, as I already know who ate all the pies.
They say you should never trust a skinny chef. I would probably add to that ‘never trust a sober one either’. It is with this in mind, halfway through a second week of lovely friends visiting ‘Chez Le Horny Chef’ here in Normandy, and forcing me to drink too much, that I offer up my latest idea.
Liver-replacement therapy. I figure that if we all eat enough of some other animal’s livers (in this case, breaded deep-fried duck liver sat atop pan-fried goose foie gras), we must be doing ourselves some good.